Driverless car startup Nuro has started making automated food deliveries around Arizona on behalf of food retail giant Kroger.
The rollout is the first stage in Nuro’s plan to offer customers deliveries of everything within a one-mile radius, including food shopping, dry cleaning, medical supplies and even pick ups and drop offs of other items, such as paperwork from your place of work or clothes you left at your friend’s house.
“We’re proud to contribute and turn our vision for local commerce into a real, accessible service that residents of Scottsdale can use immediately,” Nuro CEO Dave Ferguson said in a statement. “Our goal is to save people time, while operating safely and learning how we can further improve the experience.”
This trial will involve delivering customers’ food orders from Fry’s Food and Drug location in Scottsdale. The customer must choose same day or next day delivery and will need to pay a flat fee of $5.95, but there’s no minimum order.
At first, it’ll use Toyota Prius self-driving cars to complete orders, before switching to its own, self-built autonomous cars when they’re ready.
“The Priuses share many software and hardware systems with the R1 custom vehicle, so while we compete final certification and testing of the R1, the Prius will begin delivering groceries and help us improve the overall service and customer experience,” the spokesperson said.
This first stage in Nuro’s plan is to learn whether the autonomous deliveries ave demand and what can be changed to make them more efficient, the company explained. It will also use the tests to see how quickly it can deliver goods in the real world and how the public reacts to having their goods delivered by autonomous vehicles.
“With the pilot, we’re excited about getting more experience interacting with real customers and understanding exactly what they want,” Ferguson said. “The things they love about it, the things they don’t love as much. As an organization for us, it’s also very valuable for us to have to exercise our operational muscle.”